Memories of many happy years exploring the park. Our house was very near the park and in the Summer we sometimes made our way with the plates, cutlery and pan and had a picnic meal on the top field just near the top hedge. Hotpot was one meal remembered.
Team photos taken at Cowley Boys School in the mid to late 1970s.
It was sleeting as I took the pictures. As always I shot a few frames of each team so as to minimise the chance of anyone spoiling the shot by blinking or gesticulating.
Some forty years after taking these images I can recover a time element by animating between the three negatives, a highish definition black and white video of a time gone.
Fellow Cowley pupil Robert Williams takes a photo as I record him and Victoria Park during a 6th form Photo Society outing in 1979.
Pilkingtons Glass was a major manufacturer based in the town and employed a whole lot of townsfolk in the factories dotted around.
I have come to love this hopeless light, neglected and fading.
Two memories come to mind.
Ladies in their older years always wearing scarfs over their heads, though I don’t think it was for religious reasons. Memory is of them hiding curlers or perhaps a bouffount protected from the wind.
A visit from the new manager of the bank when it was completed to the Cowley Sixth form. I cannot remember the purpose of the visit (perhaps recruit future staff?). I recall taking a very low view of the new bank, it seemed to me to be a way of extracting money from the local economy.
Decades later after many scandals and fraud it turned out that I may have had a point.
My first income from photography came from taking over the team photos at Cowley Boys School. I didnt charge very much, 50p bought a whole plate (8.5″x6.5″) print in black and white. Cheap even at the time this enabled me to buy short lengths of outdated film or chemicals for the darkroom.
Sleet added to the atmosphere in this shot. Of course I should really have followed a Masters advice and photographed the teams directly after a match – much less smiling!
I was returning to the large building on the right which is the Gamble Institute and needed to finish the film I had been given at the photo department there.
I had been loaned a twin lens reflex camera and told to go for a walk and learn to use it.
I would not have printed a frame like this at the time as I would have considered it “too ordinary”. With the passage of time it becomes more and more interesting, the clothes, the attitude, the smoking, the lack of smart phones…
Some of the people noticed a shy 14 year old with a funny looking camera pointed at them and responded, as is natural. With time I have realised that capturing the “ordinary” is one of the greatest of photography’s gifts
Fellow Cowley Boys 5th form pupils play for one night only at the YMCA in St.Helens town centre in 1978. I was asked along to record the evening by Les Glover one of the singers.
Petrol were opening for another band and the hall started to fill up as they played. I had to use flash as it was so dark, manual cameras and slow film were the tools at hand and compromise had to come somewhere.
It would have been good to photograph the audience as well, perhaps a modern dSLR or mirrorless camera and a time machine would finish the job.
One of my earliest images, shot on a twin lens reflex camera borrowed from the photo department of the Gamble Institute in St.Helens.
St.Helens Industrial area from the late 1980s
The headmaster leaves the stage after morning assembly at Cowley Boys School in St.Helens in the late 1970s.
Early morning routine, taking a bus into St.Helens town centre from a bus stop in Haydock. Late 1970s.
Mum would have been on her way into work as a cleaner at Blundells on the corner of Chapel Street and my sister Susan would have been on her way to Central Modern school on North Road. I would have a second journey from town to Cowley boys school, sometimes also by bus but most of the time by walking.
Part of the daily drudge to wake up early and walk three quarters of a mile to the bus stop, nice on sunny days not so much on a grey rainy day.
The St.Helens I remember from my youth. I was thirteen and a half when I took this (I have a very clear memory of taking this image).
The tireless Mr Dobbs music master conducts the school brass band on the balcony of the main hall at Cowley School.
He deserved a much better tenor horn player than I was that’s for sure.
Morning assembly saw all the pupils in the main hall for hymns, prayers and announcements. When the band didnt play the hymns were accompanied by piano from the front of the hall.
Some favourite Hymns:
There Is a Green Hill Far Away.
In the bleak mid Winter
Late 1970s image showing the corner of Cooper and (I think) Argyle street in St.Helens (since demolished).